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The reservoir was constructed. It was the first large reservoir to be built in San Francisco to accommodate the rapid growth and development of the city as a result of the gold rush and the subsequent Comstock lode silver discovery.


Historical Map shows Reservoir, at the far right in red, in use.

Historic San Francisco Map 1861 Reservoir Marked
Historic San Francisco Baker Beach

Water from Mountain Lake was flumed to the Russian Hill Reservoir to serve the exploding population located in the Northeast corridor of the City, near the primary point of entry, the Port of San Francisco, following the Gold Rush.

Wooden flume from Baker Beach along the Coastal Bluffs of the Presidio, past Ft. Point and Ft. Mason (then called Black Point) to the pumping station at the foot of Van Ness Avenue.

Historic San Francisco Coastal Bluffs 1

Historic San Francisco Coastal Bluffs 2

Historic Francisco Street Reservoir

Francisco Reservoir Working Group Mission Statement

The undersigned neighborhood associations have jointly formed the Francisco Reservoir Working Group to develop concepts for community benefit uses of the Francisco Site, long marred by a derelict abandoned reservoir, south of Bay Street between Hyde and Larkin in San Francisco.

Historic Francisco Street Reservoir Covered


From PUC Archives. Water arrives from the Van Ness pumping station to fill the Reservoir.


City and County acquires property through purchase of Spring Valley Water Company.


Reservoir obsoleted with the opening of the “new” Lombard Reservoir, one full city block just up the hill. The Lombard Reservoir today is covered by tennis courts and the small Sterling Park.


Russian Hill Improvement Association raises $20,000 and helps generate City Resolution 7103 which transfers jurisdiction of 100 southernmost feet (approx. 0.95 acres) between Hyde and Larkin to Park Commission with dedication for park purposes. The Park Commission evolved to Recreation and Park Department in 1950.


Proposition C, “Parks and Playgrounds” passes providing $58,000 for completion of a park on the land transferred in 1947. View Park plans are developed by Halprin and accepted by City.

May 7, 1958

Water Dept. officially declares reservoir and Russian Hill Park surplus in preparation for sale to developers rather than in support of the Park.

July 15, 1958

Developers present plan for two 20 story apartment towers, 3 levels of garage requiring most of the reservoir site.

July 25, 1958

City Planning report comes out against development plan.

July 26, 1958

Second apartment house plan proposed by S.F. firm.

September 25, 1958

Rec. Parks sends letter to Mayor Christopher explaining why entire property is necessary to “provide adequate recreation and park services for this densely populated district”.

Francisco Reservoir - Puc Archives 1962

September 30, 1958

PUC declares property no longer surplus due to overwhelming resistance to the commercial development of this property.


PUC restates intention to declare property surplus to prepare for sale.


PUC appears before Board of Supervisors, confirms plans to develop Reservoir.


Board of Supervisors passes resolution 502.08 reaffirming reservoirs status as open space.


PUC proposes development as mechanism to fund removal of reservoir but fails to offer plans for review.

June 2011

A Francisco Park Working Group is formed to create consensus plan for a cost effective, low intensity, community open space.

Francisco Reservoir Google Earth View

Working Group Mission

  • Generate neighborhood-oriented proposals for renovating the Francisco Site, with an emphasis on public open space and recreational uses for the enjoyment of San Francisco’s residents and visitors, each design proposal to include corresponding budget for capital costs and ongoing expenses and a plan to fund implementation and maintenance.
  • Present proposals to the broader community for consideration and feedback.
  • Evaluate proposals in light of engineering and financial feasibility and city government & neighborhood feedback, and work to achieve community consensus around a single plan.
  • Secure City approval for the Consensus Plan and foster its implementation.

May 2012

Public community meeting to present design plans for review and feedback as developed by 4 Landscape Design students from the Academy of Arts University, and Richard Parker of 450 Architects.

June 2012

Working Group requests 450 Architects to develop refined sketch including preferred elements from May community meeting. Basic Plan includes removing the reservoir, grading, and paths. 450 Architects then layered preferred amenities requested by the community onto the Basic Plan. Bids will be sought for each amenity.

June 2012

CAC of the SFPUC approves CAC Resolution of Policy Regarding Francisco Reservoir, urging that when the SFPUC takes any further action with respect to the Francisco Reservoir property that its actions be consistent with the recognition in State law of the need to address the deficiency in lands available for recreations purposes and with the SFPUC Environmental Stewardship Policy of 2006, the General Plan designation of the Property and the Board of Supervisors Resolution 502.08 (2008).

Roof Of Reservoir Removed, 2012October 2012

PUC removes roof of reservoir.

May 2013

Fundraising Steering Committee formed.

April 2014

Begins outreach to business, educational, non-profit, neighborhood and environmental organizations for their support of a new public park for the Reservoir.

May – July 2014

City agency hearings regarding terms and transfer of jurisdiction from SFPUC to RPD. All hearing decisions support the transfer from SFPUC to RPD.

July 22, 2014

Board of Supervisors votes unanimously to approve the jurisdictional transfer of the Francisco Reservoir from the SFPUC to Recreation and Park Department.

September 3, 2014

By Laws are adopted and the first Francisco Park Conservancy Board of Directors is installed. Officers: Leslie Alspach, President; Knut Akseth, Secretary; Tanya Yurovsky, Treasurer; Board Members Jan Blum, Robert Girard, Lynn Jefferson, and Steve Kendrick.

September 30, 2014

Memorandum of Understanding between PUC and RPD transfers the jurisdiction of the Francisco Reservoir site from PUC to RPD pending completion of payments of $9.9 million plus interest over 12 years, to the PUC from the Open Space Acquisition Fund.

October 2014

Formal negotiations began between Francisco Park Conservancy and Recreation & Parks Department staff on an Agreement. The purpose of the Agreement “is to delineate the responsibilities and rights of each of the Parties regarding the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a park on the Francisco Reservoir site and adjacent property in the City and County of San Francisco”.

October 1, 2014

Francisco Park Conservancy documents were filed for 501(c)3 status.

November 2014

The Nob Hill Foundation made a gift of San Francisco history; 200 feet of classic, hand-crafted steel of ‘Original Huntington Fence’, forged between 1872-1879. This is a segment of the fence originally surrounding the historic Colton/Huntington House on Nob Hill (now Huntington Park).

December 12, 2014

The IRS declares the Francisco Park Conservancy qualified for tax-exempt status – 501(c)3.

January 2015

FPC Board of Directors approves the Conservancy Logo.

April 2015

The City completes a topographical survey of the site. Rec & Park Dept. filed a “Preliminary Project Assessment” with SF Planning Department on behalf of Francisco Park. Comments are expected from Planning on the PPA in 90-120 days.

November 2015

Jon Sieker, Golden Gate Audubon Society volunteer, began a one year’s bird survey of the site. The results will help inform a healthy and sustainable landscape plan which will also provide habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies.

May 2016

Francisco Park Conservancy approved of the Agreement with Recreation & Parks Department “regarding the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a park on the Francisco Reservoir site and adjacent property in the City and County of San Francisco”.

June – July 2016

Hearings before the Recreation & Park Department, the Board of Supervisors Budget & Finance Committee and the full Board of Supervisors were held, affirming the Agreement between Recreations & Parks Department and the Francisco Park Conservancy to build a new public park at the site of the defunct Francisco Reservoir site.

July 29, 2016

The Agreement between Francisco Park Conservancy and San Francisco Recreation and Park Department is formally signed.

Fall 2016 – Spring 2018

The Francisco Park Conservancy and San Francisco Recreation & Park Department co-hosted a series of community outreach meetings to collect public feedback on the new Francisco Park. To learn more about the presentations made, click here.

March 2018

The San Francisco Recreation & Park Commission overwhelming approves the conceptual design plan for the new Francisco Park. Read more here.

April 2018

The Francisco Park Conservancy receives a $2.5 million gift from Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam, bring Francisco Park’s fundraising efforts closer to the budget of $25 million. Read more here.

September 2018

The Francisco Park Conservancy receives a challenge grant from an anonymous donor who pledges to contribute $6 million if the Conservancy raises $5 million by January 31, 2019.

February 2019

The Francisco Park Conservancy meets its $6 million matching gift challenge grant. With $22.5 million now raised in donations and commitments, the Conservancy has sufficient funds to prepare to break ground on the park in the summer of 2019.

March 2019

The San Francisco Planning Department approves the Francisco Park conceptual design and authorizes a site permit for construction. 

June 2019

The Francisco Park Conservancy Board approves a conceptual playground design created by Earthscape with input from the community and the Francisco Park Conservancy’s Playground Committee. 

July 2019

The Francisco Park Conservancy signs a contract with Cahill Construction to build Francisco Park. Construction begins.

April 2022

All park improvements designed, funded and completed by Francisco Park Conservancy are transferred to the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and a “Watering Ceremony” formally opens Francisco Park to the public on April 27, 2022.